Reinholz picks up play for Gophers

Men’s hockey’s Jerrid Reinholz finally made the most of a chance to play this weekend.

Lou Raguse

On Jan. 24, Minnesota men’s hockey junior Jerrid Reinholz spent his Saturday morning at the University recreation center playing a game of pickup basketball. That night, without him in the lineup, the Gophers defeated North Dakota 2-1.

Just one week later, Reinholz not only suited up for the hockey team but also scored the game-winning goal against WCHA rival Wisconsin.

And with that game came a renewed self-confidence for the Gophers forward, who hopes to continue showing what he can do on the ice and earn himself a more stable spot in the lineup.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself the first couple games I played this year,” Reinholz said. “Now it’s just more fun.”

Reinholz has one goal and one assist in seven games this year, both in Saturday’s game. With that performance, a weight was lifted off his shoulders, as the junior showed he can carry his strong play in practice over to games.

“Based on what you’d see in practice, you’d think he’d do more in games,” coach Don Lucia said. “Hopefully, now he goes on a little streak and scores a few goals.”

Reinholz’s road to Gophers hockey took a detour to Duluth. He played one season of hockey for Minnesota-Duluth, where he scored one goal and had one assist in 25 games.

However, he spent the season playing on the fourth line and, unlike Minnesota’s, the Bulldogs’ fourth line doesn’t see much ice time.

“I didn’t get the opportunity to play that much,” Reinholz said. “They expected me to show them what I can do in three shifts a game. It didn’t work out between me and the coaches.”

Reinholz began to look at his options, and gave Lucia a call that year. Lucia told him he could walk on for the Gophers.

After sitting out the 2001-02 season, Reinholz played 33 games for Minnesota last year despite a fractured jaw and a shoulder injury.

But going into this season, Reinholz had more to prove in order to secure a place in the lineup.

“Coach told me coming in this year that it was going to be tough with all the centers coming in,” Reinholz said. “Right from day one, I knew I’d have to earn a position.”

When Reinholz didn’t play up to expectations early this season, he quickly became the odd man out of the lineup.

He got his first chance when Ryan Potulny went out for the season with a knee injury. But after two games at Wisconsin, Reinholz was unable to earn a constant spot in the lineup.

Now that Ryan Potulny’s older brother, senior Grant Potulny, is out until March with a separated shoulder, Reinholz has been given another solid opportunity to become a mainstay on the fourth line.

Reinholz said he was able to make the most of the situation this weekend because he was getting scoring chances he hadn’t gotten in previous games.

In his first five games this season, Reinholz didn’t have a shot on net. On Saturday his entire line played well, as Jon Waibel and Garrett Smaagaard each recorded two points as well.

And after Reinholz was able to get in on various scoring opportunities, his teammates noticed the rise in his poise.

“Confidence is everything,” senior Matt Koalska said. “As an athlete, sometimes you get down on yourself and it can be tough to pull out of. It was great to see Jerrid have a weekend like that.”

After a few days of back-patting and congratulations for his huge game against the Badgers, Reinholz said that he hopes to play to his ability for the rest of the year.

If he does, his pickup basketball season might be put on hold for a while.